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Leinster’s Leo Cullen celebrates with the trophy after the Rabo 12 final win. Photo by: Sportsfile

Sports Digest: Leinster stars Joe Schmidt, Jonathan Sexton and Isa Nacewa say farewell with a win against Ulster

\"Leinster’s

Leinster’s Leo Cullen celebrates with the trophy after the Rabo 12 final win. Photo by: Sportsfile

The Three Amigos said their goodbyes and left Leinster with not one but two crowns to remember them by at the RDS on Saturday night.

The 24-18 win over Ulster in the Rabo 12 final came just over a week after their Amlin Cup success, a fitting farewell for coach Joe Schmidt, out-half Jonathon Sexton and winger Isa Nacewa.

All three are off on very differing paths in the coming weeks. All three will grace the Leinster set-up only as visitors in the weeks and months ahead.

Sexton will spend the next six weeks on tour with the Lions in Australia before reporting for duty as Racing Metro’s star signing in Paris.

Schmidt will enjoy a watching brief when Ireland tour North America and Canada next month before assuming the role of Declan Kidney’s successor as national coach at the start of July.

Nacewa is heading home to New Zealand after a lucrative spell with the Blues on and off the field, a spell that finally saw them lift the Celtic League title at the third time of asking with their derby day win over Ulster.

The men from the North may have topped the table when the league came to a conclusion, but Leinster won the final thanks to tries from Shane Jennings and Jamie Heaslip either side of halftime and 14 points from the boot of the departing Sexton.

Ulster offered parity at times but failed to cross the Leinster line, their points all coming from kicker Ruan Pienaar from six penalties.

For Sexton, the win was sweet as he prepares to leave the only club environment he has ever known. And he knows he leaves the club in good hands.

Sexton said, “It’s a two way process. The good thing about Leinster over the last few years is we have replaced everyone that’s left.

“You know Rocky Elsom left, Kevin McLaughlin and Sean O’Brien came in. Brad Thorn left, Devin Toner has come in and filled his boots.

“I’m sure guys will come in and fill the spot I’ve had for the last few years. It’s a two-way thing. They’ll have to want me back. Obviously, this is a very special place. I love this place.

“I’m sure if I was dealing with them alone, I think they rate me. Listen, like I said, it’s a big adventure for me for however many years I’m there.

“Maybe I’ll be back some day, maybe not, maybe Leinster will go on ahead and win another couple of Heineken Cup trophies and a couple of Rabos, you just don’t know.”

His farewell match was a special win for Sexton, better even than the three Heineken Cups he has won with the province.

He added, “I am just so happy we won. I think it felt even better than winning a Heineken Cup because to lose four in a row would have been unthinkable. I don’t know what we would have done.

“Thankfully, we dogged it out and to get the win covers up a bit of the emotion. Joe spoke about not making this emotional for the week. You know we have to play well.

“Then he turned up and gave a pre-match speech. I think he had a bit of a lump in his throat so I think we got a little bit emotional all of us but we started the game pretty well and that told because they had a lot of emotion for obvious reasons.

“We were aware of that. Maybe they’ll learn a lesson.  They struggled in the first 10 minutes and that was the game really. In a final that is massive.”

Nacewa also leaves on a high. 

“It’s the best way to go out. I’ve been here for five years now and for my last game to be a winning one like this in the RDS with Leo and the lads is pretty special,” he said.

“The PRO 12 is a tough competition and there’s been a bitter taste in our mouths for the last two summers but we’ll cherish this one. That team will never play together again but at least we finished on a high.”

Schmidt leaves Leinster with two Heineken Cups, one Amlin Cup and now one Rabo Pro 12 League in the trophy cabinet, but his over-riding feeling on Thursday was one of tiredness.

“I’m just fatigued! I’m just washed out! It would be great to look back over the summer and enjoy a moment of reflection, but I’m already looking ahead,” he said.

“I’ve been here three years and I’m six years older! It was a pretty nerve-wracking way to go out.  It’s phenomenal now to have these trophies in the changing room at the moment. It was a great achievement to win the Amlin Cup and now the Rabo Pro 12 which I think is a great competition.”

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